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What, happened.

Published February 16, 2018 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I have been working on my second novel for slightly less time than the first one. (In case you missed itCircumstance)

The characters have been in my head for almost a decade, and for a while I toyed with calling it “What. Happened.” Then I realized that selling, publicizing,etc would soon look like an Abbot and Costello routine, and that I should probably figure something else out. (That something out is “Intentionally Left Blank”.Coming eventually.)

The title stuck with me because after some huge disaster everyone is always running around like a blind dog in a meat locker asking, “What happened?” The answer is usually easy. What is what happened. This means events have defied all description and there is no way a logical mind can put it together. (Even someone who his mostly non-logic has a hard time tossing the pieces in place. )

This week is weird for me (weirder than usual)  A year ago Monday, the world lost the bright light that was Fayth Norman. She was my student and she was killed in a murder suicide by her grandmother. So, yeah, that has me a bit down.

I also decided to try Whole30  for the first chunk of Lent, so I went ahead and started on Sunday, even though Lent didn’t start until yesterday.  Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, and this year, Ash Wednesday was February 14,

Now Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday. True Red is my favorite color, and I am drawn to the heart shape-It’s the true symbol of eternity because Love is the only thing that is Always.  Well this year, my sweetheart is in Myrtle Beach, doing the pirate thing and while I know that I will be with him in a month, I can’t help but remember that it will be a few months before I see him again, and the who knows?  Grim indeed.

February 14 is also the anniversary of my grandfather’s death. Angelo Gonzalez was a true saint on this earth and his death marks the 15 year long decline in my brother’s health. That is a story for another time. (Suffice it to say that I am fully prepared to have to leap out of my classroom to help the Mom handle something. )

For several days I have been poised to spring back into writing something because I certainly do have something to say. I am working on an official, well researched diatribe on the disaster that is Logan Paul and  the trail of ignorance he leaves in his wake. I also have plenty to say about the day to day madness that is my work life (I love it and there are many, many stories that will make you guffaw with laughter and a few that will make you tear up a bit.) I also have an entire bucket of anger to aim at the current administration and their inability to protect the poor and feed the hungry . (Seriously, boxes of canned goods instead of food stamps? Are you seriously saying that the poor don’t deserve fresh produce and fresh dairy? Are you trying to create a new Mongol Horde?, you know those guys who were starving, had no hope and nothing left to lose so they invaded and pillaged and basically destroyed their current civilization? )

And then there is the recent school shooting.

As a teacher, this kind of thing is particularly chilling.  My students generally only talk about Takis, the lunch menu, and Logan Paul, but today they all had something to say about the school shooting. They are scared. So am I. Because I know exactly how I would react if a shooter were to barge into my classroom.

I would keep them safe  at any cost.

Because we have lost to much.

That’s What Happened. S

I think that Yak has my math homework (Parmegeddon, it’s starting to grate.)

Published January 16, 2018 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

So I am currently listening to the audio book of what I am referring to as “The Emperor’s New Clothes” The rest of the world is referring to it as “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff. It’s good and it’s making the side of my head ping a little bit.

I was a trepidatious about using my Audible Credit for this book, because I knew it would just make me  mad, but considering I am usually listening while cleaning or exercising, I could just use the rage.

But the thing is, I don’t know to whom I direct my rage. I can rail and rant at the situation, but let’s be honest, I’m certain that my race, gender and age, not to mention socioeconomic status (really, don’t mention it, I’m kind of freaking out about that) puts me so far below the Trump radar I’m touching the magma filling in the hollow earth. (Earth Science +Conspiracy theory for the win!)

Let me make you a list of the things related to the current political landscape:

a) The false alarm nuclear alert in Hawaii

b) This headline from the New York Times:

Military Quietly Prepares for a Last Resort: War With North Korea

 c) The Department of Homeland Security Secretary is pretending not to know that Norway is full of Nordic types.

d) The President of the United States used language that denigrates two whole ethnic groups, and his cabinet seems to be okay with it.

In the middle of all of this I am teaching Math to Fourth Graders. I am not comfortable with Math, especially with these key concepts that lay the foundation for the rest of their educational careers.

We were working on the Order of Operations.  I was explaining that, in this case, the rules are finite and will not change. One of my cherubs likes to be the dog at the end of the towel and asked, what if does?

I assured him that the only thing that would bring about a change in the law of Mathematics is a collapse of society and if that happens I will happily rise out of the desolate wasteland and send him a note attached to a Yak stating:

” You were right. The rules did change. Please keep the Yak as recompense for your time.”

I can’t be responsible for a missing Yak.

“ipsa scientia potestas est” Parmegeddon, the cheese continues

Published January 11, 2018 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I have often heard that  knowledge is power, or so sayeth (probably) Francis Bacon, and who doesn’t like Bacon?

The last few days have felt off, at least from my perspective, and how else can I feel things, hmm? I do feel a bit better, now that I know that Oprah is poised to save us, or at least preovide us with a taco fiesta, and since when were things not made better with tacos?

In the years prior to MBH, I was frantic and often poised to flail. Post MBH, I am very well medicated mostly to prevent any new surprise attacks, and I haven’t spent the last fourteen years repairing brain cells (you can’t say that doesn’t happen! No one knows!) and re-routing neuro transmitters to have it all go, literally kerflooey)  One of the medications is an anti-seizure pill that was initially prescribed to because there was a lot of dried blood working its way out of my brain, but I now continue to take to prevent migraines.

My prescription expired several days ago and I just got my refill about an hour ago.  I think the brain chemistry was a bit skewed.

The last few days have felt odd. I still think we are  circling the drain of this stage of our civilization and I will quote and surmise and make fun, pithy comments, citing chapters of recently read tomes, but I need the brain juice to settle a bit.

It’s possible  my students have noticed things are a bit hinky. I have over programmed my cherubs and have been keeping a tight schedule so that there is little time for my brain to wander.

Today I had a bit of slippage.

I was going word by word through a study guide for a chapter in the seriously dry and uninteresting Social Studies book.  My objective was to demonstrate some research skills.  No one could feign interest in this madness so as their minds wandered, I loudly lamented the efforts of the Sumerians who invented the paper that the book and worksheet was printed on and the efforts of  the Mesopotamians to perfect the written word, not to mention poor old Gutenberg who invented movable type, all of these who have gone before us to make this lesson possible and eight nine year olds couldn’t be bothered to at least keep up.

It was in this moment that I realized my students would report some of this at home and  I would either come across completely insane or totally brilliant.

I can live with either

Parmegeddon (Because if it’s the end, I want cheese.) Part 1: The bearable rightness of being.

Published January 7, 2018 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

What is it that Robert Burns says about the best laid plans of Mice and Men?

I know perfectly well what Burns said. ““The best laid schemes o’mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.” I even know what it means.  The very rightness of knowing things has been both a lifesaver and an anchor in many of the storms of my life (How picturesque! I’ve been teaching children to write descriptively and I may have just lost the run of myself as I am wont to do.)

There is a lot on my  mind right now. There is even more in my sinus cavity because allergy season and kids around me all day, many of them with various and sundry illnesses. Being around my cherubs reminds me of my elementary school experiences and it makes me watchful  because in the anchor and the lifesaver category (world’s worst jeopardy home game) I have a good working memory and have vivid recollections of myself at nine years old and younger. I remember being in Kindergarten and getting into a screaming argument with Sam Honea and Janea Townsend that Ma’am and Mama were two different words. This would not be the first time that I would concede to loud blondes just to keep the peace.

I mostly remember knowing I was right, and not being able to wrap my mind around the fact that these two shrill beasts couldn’t accept that.  As I grew up and my intellectual curiosity was encouraged by nuns, librarians and student teachers (Pretty awesome name for a book store/lounge.) I began to ask a lot of what if’s. I remember asking my parents, “What if someone killed an entire classroom of kids, would the kids be buried together or individually?”  This was in 1980, and, of course, my parents were shocked by my questions because things like that didn’t happen. There are a few other incidents where I just knew something was right and it was. As an adult I have joked about being the pawn between good and evil and I know I have gone on quite a bit about that. With that power seems to come a bit of Cassandra’s curse (world’s worst Lingerie store)  I won’t go into my knowledge of Greek mythology and how Agamemnon should have had more sense to return home after 10 years with another woman, especially since the woman in question spent the entire voyage home warning him that his wife, Clytemnestra probably wasn’t going to be thrilled to see him at all, let alone with a female slave, but, of course, Cassandra was right. Unfortunately, Agamemnon didn’t realize this until after he met the business end of an axe.

Cassandra didn’t get to enjoy her rightness for very long, because  Clytemnestra was only slightly more thrilled to see HER than she was her husband.  And, of course, Cassandra died.

This whole rambly tumble of words is the preface to what will be part book report, part catharsis and part display of my education. (I have an obsessive need for constant reassurance)

This all came about because I just finished reading:

The Mandibles: A family 2029-2047 by Lionel Shriver

and rereading:

The Gate to Women’s Country by Sheri S.Tepper

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

That kind of explains my mood.

 

Well, here’s the proof.

Published December 22, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Many years ago, 26 to be exact, I was hired as part of anti-gang program using theatre as a means of conflict resolution. (I know, I know, but I was young and I had hope and it paid well.)  This job turned into the first stage of my career as an arts educator. I spent over a decade teaching theatre at Inner City schools. It was worthy work, but low paid and very stressful. At the time I would often remark that I was the pawn between Good and Evil.

I meant it as a joke and a means to colorfully describe the fun found when teaching third graders to write fairy tale plays and the shock of discovering that top students had been expelled for gang violence.  Although my life is a little more evened out, there are days when I am reminded that I am probably still the pawn or at least the comic relief for the cosmos.

I got a lot of sleep last night so I thought I would get a jump on some things for next semester. (My class is presenting Mass again on January 12, and I wanted to get an idea of what the readings look like so I can at least be slightly prepared when the music teacher passive aggressives me the week before.)

Guess what the reading for that day is? It’s from the book of Samuel, who apparently used his words to complain about Saul for several grim passages. Now, this particular passage I find problematic because after a very wordy intro, it goes on to this:

“He will use your daughters as ointment makers, as cooks, and as bakers.
He will take the best of your fields, vineyards, and olive groves,
and give them to his officials.
He will tithe your crops and your vineyards,
and give the revenue to his eunuchs and his slaves.
He will take your male and female servants,
as well as your best oxen and your asses,
and use them to do his work.
He will tithe your flocks and you yourselves will become his slaves.
When this takes place,
you will complain against the king whom you have chosen,
but on that day the LORD will not answer you.”

Seriously.

My students are 9 and even my best readers would fall all over themselves laughing at saying  oxen and asses. I don’t even want to think about how I would explain what a eunuch is and why there is a place for them on this list.  Did I mention that my best readers include two ESL students, one of whom has a slight lisp.  (Guffaw all you want, I think I would find it funny if it wasn’t me.)

All of this gave me a headache, so I took a nap, and then headed out for my adventure.

One of my more challenging students gave me a $20 gift card to Barnes and Noble, and I have a coupon and wasn’t up to facing the wrath of Samuel, so I headed out.

As I entered I headed to the cafe for an Iced Coffee (It’s 75 degrees here and I can’t be expected to peruse books without caffeine.) I went to order and the Barista asked if he could get a name for the cup. I told him I had no idea what the cup wanted to be called, but that my name is Lynda. He wrote “Lynda’s friend” on the cup.

I did find a great book, had my coffee and have money left on my card.    So weird stuff and good stuff all in the same short space of my day is reasonable proof of my place in the universe.

That and I couldn’t find my car so at least three people followed me as I aimlessly looked for my car.   (Tee Hee)

I know, it’s because I want things to make sense

Published December 21, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

My brain is a little flustered today. I have a million things to do and some of them are not  important, some of them are. The fluster comes from trying to figure it out.

As per BatBeard’s recommendation, I’m trying to remain calm, particularly about the news. I have been trying to stay away from it all but the best I can do is try to distract myself by finding the weird little side points in the stories.

For example, on CNN’s page today there is a story about a FSU Fraternity pledge, Andrew Coffey, died due to alcohol poisoning. Unfortunately this is not an uncommon event. I am saddened by the time, money and brain cells that are being sacrificed in the name of Greek Life.

Now, I don’t wish to take away from the sadness of this horrific affair but I really must ask why CNN’s staff writers found it necessary to refer to preface the meat of the article with:

“On November 2, Coffey was attending Big Brother Night, a party to celebrate pledges joining a mentorship with a “big brother.” The members, pledges and two hired strippers attended the party at an off-campus home, according to the presentment.”full article here

Now, was it really necessary to point out that the strippers were hired? Are there a number of strippers wandering around Florida hoping a gig will just appear. I know this isn’t the point of the article, but really?

And now, It appears that Ivanka Trump dropped in at a High School in Connecticut to promote STEM programs. Some parents are upset because they did not have the option to keep their child out of school that day.  I have no idea how I feel about that.  Now if Ivanka showed up at my school, which would be interesting because the socio-economic world in which I work is so far below the Trump radar, and I would probably choke to death so as to appear gracious and not point out the many, many areas where extra funding could be used, except of course ,we are not eligible for public school funding, and even though we are a private school, the kind of vouchers that the Secretary of Education touts will in no way help or effect the kind of students my school serves and I would have to press on my miraculous medal in hopes that hand of God will reach down and Deus ex Machina me right out of there and now I’m freaking out about something that didn’t even happen to me or is likely to ever happen to me.

And that’s why I need to spend most of time watching videos of kittens sleeping. In the background I’m listening to Lorelai Gilmore complain about the kind of proposal she just got from Max Medina. (I have been rewatching the first season of the Gilmore Girls, and I’m starting to wonder if Lorelai is a narcissist, and why it’s so important to me.)

What truly makes me flurb is that even after the mega tantrum Lorelai throws where she complains about her proposal because a proposal should have a 1000 yellow daisies. And the FOOL ACTUALLY SURPRISES HER WITH 1000 YELLOW DAISIES. That’s about 800 dollars.  And the Prep School teacher who loves her ponied up the cash for that and next day delivery.

Although I’m sure that a teacher in a prep school in Connecticut makes far more than the average 47K per year (Hint, I make no where near that, but as I said I’m in a below the radar school)  An $800 layout on a pre-posal is pretty extensive.  The ring is featured in another episode.  Which reminds me, I seem to have misplaced my engagement ring.

It’s the centerpiece of my “You can have it when you pry it off of my cold dead hands collection.”

So now I have to clean. And I will not watch the Gilmore girls.

Condolences to the Coffey family. And to the Fraternity that let this young man die, I hope you all have the life you deserve. But you probably won’t.

f

 

 

 

Sorry, Mr. Wordsworth, part one.

Published December 17, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I’m fully acknowledge that I sound like a snob or, heaven forfend, Ted Mosby (seriously how did those smug people put up with each other? At least The New Adventures of Old Christine acknowledged that they were terrible) but  the Words are Worth (see what I did there?) saying:

The world is too much with us. In spite of my natural tendency to flail, I can’t just wander about Higgledy Piggledy hoping to land in the right place (of course if you were to see the myriad of bruises marring my landscape you would think I was doing just that.)

BatBeard continues to warn me on a regular basis to stop reading the news because it upsets me. Well, I’m not going to stop, (So there!)

The same teacher who introduced me to Wordworth (She also introduced me to Alfred Noyes, but that’s a fish for another basket) also introduced me to the duo consisting of Knowledge and Responsibility.

I’m pretty sure she wasn’t a familiar with Spiderman or his uncle Ben(But how cool would it be if that Uncle Ben was the same person as the guy from the box of rice? These are the ideas that keep me from sleeping very deeply.)  She explained that knowledge made one responsible for choosing. One had to choose between action and inaction.

I have taken this to heart every single day. My heart and I have been full of decisions lately.  It is not new to this particular administration, because the problems have always been with us.  As Mr. Wordsworth went on to say:

“Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;”

A colleague whose opinion I truly cherish said ,”It’s worse than it’s ever been.”  So while the madness around me has been roiling for decades, or at least since 1802 when Wordsworth tossed this poem out to frame his thoughts, it appears to be getting worse.

As much as it makes my head and heart hurt to look, I can’t help it.

In a related tangent, I read the Handmaid’s Tale around the same time as I learned this poem. Since I was twelve, I didn’t quite absorb all of it’s meaning, but the gist of the story stayed with me. So, when BatBeard, the same pirate hero who has warned and cajoled me to remain calm raved about the series, I began watching the series (I in no way blame BatBeard for any of my angst, in fact, he is truly loved by the Mom, my Amanda Friend and Actor Boy for bringing my smile back from wherever it had been hiding.) I could only watch one episode at time because the words and the knowledge began to form thoughts and choice in my head.

Take care when thoughts are provoked.

Here’s the one that got me:

“It didn’t happen overnight.”